More people than ever are playing video games and a lot of the surge in gaming popularity has come from casual gamers who enjoy freemium games on their phone, either on a popular social media site or downloaded from the app store. Games on these platforms are sometimes viewed as games made for people who don’t play video games, but with some of the more recent titles like Mobius Final Fantasy or King’s Knight: Wrath of the Dark Dragon, there seems to be more of an effort to attract PC and console gamers to mobile gaming or to turn mobile gaming into a gateway drug for the ultra casual gamer. Lord of Dice is one such game that attempts to appeal to both gamers who simply want something to whittle away time on public transit along with people who eat and sleep video games, and will be available for iOS and Android mobile devices and tablets.
Lord of Dice is a free to play RPG that combines hero card collection with dice mechanics. Having amassed some popularity in Asian countries Lord of Dice is going to attempt to duplicate that success in North American and Oceania territories. The plot of Lord of Dice isn’t anything too groundbreaking, a princess is accosted by a group of thugs and some band of heroes happens to be traveling by and save her. They end up traveling together, which involves scaling the Infinity Tower while amassing a team of heroes called Dicers, all of which need their memories restored. This is game designed to play on the go, so the focus is really more on the fast paced gameplay and Dicer collection than getting enthralled with a deep narrative.
The gameplay of Lord of Dice is basically an RPG cosplaying as a board game. Each floor of the tower is a grid, and the goal is to reach the end and beat the boss before the player runs out of turns or gets tragically slain by the hostile monsters that inhabit the board. The player goes into the floor with a deck made of six Dicer cards. Each Dicer has their own attributes, abilities and movement pattern so the card the player pulls at the start of their turn dictates how they will move and attack if applicable. Landing on a square in range of an enemy will result in a fight, and the player will have to use multiple cards in some cases to overcome their enemies.
The mechanics couldn’t be simpler, just swipe the desired card and the action ensues but with over 200 Dicers that can be collected there is plenty of room for strategic variety. Should the player land a square occupied by an enemy a dice battle will occur. Whoever ends up rolling higher will get the advantage of the first attack and the result will be critical damage if that high roll is significantly higher than the opponent’s roll.
The player travels about the grid by moving the hero they selected at the start of the game by drawing the different Dicer cards. There are six different types of attack the Dicers have, which are Melee, Sniper, Whirlwind, Piercer, Bomber and Magic. Melee is when you want to target a single enemy but hit them with a lot of damage, but will stop character movement to attack. Sniper is for when an enemy is four to five tiles away, and it allows the player to pull off a quick hit and keep moving. Whirlwind is ideal for when your hero is surrounded, as it will attack all enemies in the eight tiles around the player before moving. Piercer is for when enemies are neatly organized in a straight line in front of the player and can hit up to four tiles worth of enemies. Bomber is what the player needs when they are being pursued, as it attacks the seven tiles behind the player before moving forward. Magic attacks are best suited for when enemies are spread out in front of the player, as it attacks the six tiles in front of the player before moving.
During the course of the story mode the player will acquire Dicer shards that can be used to unlock Dicers to add to their party. As stated above there are over 200 Dicers to collect so players with Pokemon syndrome will be entertained for quite a while trying to collect every single one of them. Party management is pretty simple, in between going in the game board the player just needs to go into the management menu and swap out who they want in their deck. Having a variety of movement types and attack types is recommended, but just for experimentation going to battle on the single player mode and randomly drawing every turn didn’t have a detrimental effect on progress. Lord of Dice is a free to play game, which of course means there are microtransactions and loot boxes. Everyone has their own opinion about loot boxes, especially since it has become a hot button issue with some recent games. For previewing purposes, no loot boxes were purchased and their absence didn’t hinder the enjoyment of the title during PvE. During PvP mode, combat strategy will likely be important than it was in PvE and depending on what sort of goodies come in the loot boxes that may factor into play as well.
The graphics of Lord of Dice look quite nice on the smartphone and tablet screen. The story progresses through stationary cutscenes with detailed anime drawings of the characters while the in game board is populated with chibi versions of the party members and hostile enemies. The enemy monsters are often too cute to be taken seriously as malevolent bringers of death and pain but looks can be deceiving. The story is not on par with the best works of Bioware or Square-Enix, but it’s interesting enough to hold the player’s interest as they climb the Infinity Tower collecting Dicers.
Lord of Dice is a simple yet fun mobile title, catering more to casual gamers than trying to replicate a high end PC or console gaming experience. For people with no interest in mobile gaming there isn’t anything here that will change your opinion, but for those who actually like mobile games or at least willing to give them a try, this title can be fun. Personally it seemed best suited for small bursts of gameplay. Lord of Dice isn’t a title I would want to sit down and play for hours on end, but it was fun to pick it up and play through a couple areas for fifteen or twenty minutes at time.